Cameron McGrone Has Already Bought Into 'The Patriot Way'
The New England Patriots picked a former Michigan Wolverine.
If you felt like you've heard that before, it's because you probably have, with the Patriots having a long history of drafting Wolverines, including (and most notably with) quarterback Tom Brady, who played 20 years with the organization and led it to six Super Bowl victories.
The club drafted Cameron McGrone with the No. 177 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, which marked three-straight years in which the Patriots selected former Michigan players, with edge Chase Winovich in 2019, and edge Josh Uche and offensive lineman Michael Onwenu in 2020 being the three previous draftees.
McGrone enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, a campaign in which he notched 66 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 4.0 sacks, five quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup as the Maize and Blue's MIKE linebacker. His 2020 season did not turn out how he would've hoped — mostly due to injuries — with an upper-body ailment forcing him to miss the remainder of a loss to Michigan State and an ACL tear holding him out of the final game and a half of the six-game season.
He said he decided on entering the draft as an underclassman, forgoing his final three years of eligibility, before the 2020 season. After waiting at his family's home in Indianapolis until mid-afternoon on Saturday to hear his name called, he was excited to finally know where he's headed.
"It's just a blessing, you know? Just all the hard work I put in and just to be around my people was just a blessing," McGrone told New England reporters in a Zoom press conference.
It's also exciting that he'll be teamed up with Winovich and Uche on the Patriots' defense.
"Getting the chance to be around some of my former teammates, that's going to mean a lot to me too," McGrone said. "Just to see some familiar faces is a blessing. Josh hit me up just to tell me congratulations and same with Chase. Just overall a blessing."
New England head coach Bill Belichick said the team is prepared to play without McGrone this season if he is still recovering from his ACL injury, but that they're glad they were able to grab him in the fifth round — and the fact that he played at Michigan, with other talented players, didn't hurt either.
"McGrone played a lot of football there," Belichick pointed out after being asked if he's worried that McGrone doesn't have a ton of experience. "There's plenty of football in McGrone, plenty against good competition as well. I don't think his amount of playing time is an issue. Unfortunately, wasn't able to finish the year this year. Just see where he is.
"He's been a productive player on a good defense that was well coached by [former Michigan defensive coordinator] Coach [Don] Brown and played with Josh and Chase and plenty of other guys. [Cornerback Ambry] Thomas was drafted [by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round]. [Edge defender Kwity] Paye was drafted [by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round]. We've got a lot of good football players there. He was part of a really good group."
McGrone has already bought into the team culture, too, noting that he feels he can be a very good linebacker in the league but is also willing to play any role that is asked of him.
"I feel like I bring a winning attitude, just that Patriot Way," he said. "I'm excited to get to work, just do everything that I'm needed to do at any point in time is what I'm ready to do.
"I'm willing to sacrifice anything for the Patriots."
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